I got an email today from a friend and former supporter, asking me to come meet with a Liberian pastor and discuss future work in Liberia.
My response surprised even me. I wrote quickly in reply, “I'm still pretty burned after my last experience. I do care deeply for Liberia... just want to be careful in the future.”
My last experience. In January 2010 I signed up with a small NGO, working exclusively in Liberia for the purpose of helping to open a birthing clinic. I’d already made one trip and spent months praying about it. I had no way of knowing that four more trips, three and a half years, lots of hard work, thousands of dollars raised and invested, many Liberian friends and my whole broken heart later, I’d be writing my resignation.
Now I'm burned.
(Which is different from “burned out,” ‘cause I’ve been there too, and come back.)
I was reading Hebrews 11 the other day, and noticed that the first Faith Hall of Fame-er mentioned was Abel. Abel, who by faith, offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, his brother.
Yeah, and as a reward for his faith and his excellent sacrifice… he got stabbed in the back.
By his brother.
So, in case someone wants to imply that a person doing the right thing with the right attitude will always have a good outcome in this life…
And I know it’s wrong, but sometimes I still hope.
It’s that hope that has kept me coming back to church, coming back to ministry, coming back to missions again and again in spite of numerous Abel experiences.
A better sacrifice.
Sacrifices get burned.
Sometimes the one offering it gets burned too.
But it doesn’t mean the sacrifice was in vain. Abel’s life looked like a total waste in Genesis 4. And then we find in Hebrews 11, that God saw it differently. “By which sacrifice Abel obtained a witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”
No evidence of success in this life.
But plenty in the eternal Word and in eternal life.
That’s a good word for the burned.
People hate truth for the sake of whatever it is that they love more than the truth. They love truth when it shines warmly on them, and hate it when it rebukes them. – St. Augustine